|Posted on November 21, 2019 at 3:10 PM|
All believers struggle with the natural conditioning of this world when trying to live out our new lives in Christ. Among the most difficult issues is the fact that we have learned to trust our own knowledge of good and evil to make our decisions in life. In the pride of our natural humanity we believe the way to succeed in life is to know what’s right and wrong so that we can do what is right and quit doing what is wrong. Of course, this idea usually degenerates into the practice of doing what is wrong to get ahead and hope you don’t get caught.
This kind of lifestyle is what the Bible refers to as being “under the law”. It is trying to live our lives according to a set of rules and regulations that define for us what is right and what is wrong so we can obey its demands. The problem here is not necessarily the rules (especially God’s rules), but the fact we actually believe we can keep them. God did not give us his law as a means by which we might save ourselves from his curse or earn his blessings. Instead, he gave us the law to reveal his righteous character and prove to the entire world that we are in need of a Savior. The main argument of Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches is against the common idea that believers can now save themselves (earning God’s blessings and avoiding his coursings) by doing what they know is right and not doing what they know is wrong.
Such misguided faith in their own ability to interpret and apply the rules in their own lives effectively blocks their continuing faith in the personal leadership and power of the indwelling Spirit. While they may continue to believe they have been saved from the penalty of sin by the grace of God through their faith alone, they often fall from a lifestyle of grace and truth back into the old lifestyle of law and lies. In so doing they make Christ of “no effect” by seeking to establish their own righteousness according to their own ability to live up to the demands of the law. The net effect is a self-righteous religiosity rather than true spirituality. They have a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof”.
At the close of his personal testimony the apostle Paul announces that he has been crucified with Christ! He says, “I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me”. What an astounding statement! Notice he says that he continues to live but it is not him that lives but Christ that lives in him. Obviously, he is talking about a spiritual reality that the Galatians should remember him teaching them. In Romans 6 he explains that when we trust Jesus the old person we were is crucified with Christ and a new person is raised up in Christ to take its place. We are no longer the same person we have always thought ourselves to be, but a brand-new person who is able to live a new lifestyle.
Finally, he tells us how he is living his new lifestyle in Christ, “…and the life that I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Rather than trusting himself to turn over a new leaf and keep the rules, he lives out the righteous life of Christ by exercising the “faith of the son of God”. He is now living by the same kind of faith that Jesus exercised to do the will of the Father here on earth. He was trusting in the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God for the direction and ability to love like the Father. The new lifestyle of grace and truth is entered by those who exercise the kind of faith that Jesus displayed during his ministry, not by our own rule keeping. By faith we believe who God has made us to be and by faith we trust the personal leadership of the indwelling Spirit of God to say and do what he wants us to say and do to love others.